Festival of Chinese Translation

Confucius Institute

Providing Chinese language teaching and cultural classes and events to the North East Scotland community

Festival of Chinese Translation

Following its well-received debut last year, our online programme of paid workshops and free talks focusing on literary translation run in conjunction with Paper Republic is back for 2022, running from 13 June to 2 July.

Events are aimed at professional and aspiring translators, and will cover a wide and fascinating range of topics.

Here is the Festival programme at a glance.

  Monday (Workshop) Wednesday (Workshop) Saturday (Lecture)
Wk 1 starting 13 June Literary Prose Translation  Non-Language-Specific Manuscript Editing The Business of Translation: A Roundtable
Wk 2 starting 20 June How to Pitch to Publishers Subtitling Translation Slam
Wk 3 starting 27 June Translating Children's Books Translating Brands - Mixed Media Transcreation Brian Holton - On Translating Chinese into English and Scots


Please see below for full details of this varied programme.


Workshops cost £30 each (£20 for students). A discounted price is available for anyone signing up for all six sessions. Registration is via the online store.

Lectures are free but registration is required via Eventbrite.


All workshops are online. Places are limited for optimum benefit to participants so do book your place as soon as possible. In most cases, workshop materials will be sent out in advance of the event. If you have any queries about our Festival of Chinese Translation programme, please get in touch at confucius@abdn.ac.uk.

Translating A Yi (Literary Prose Translation Workshop)
Monday 13 June, 14:00-16:00 BST

Participants will explore translating an excerpt from Wake Me Up at Nine in the Morning (《早上九点叫醒我》) by ex-cop author A Yi 阿乙. We’ll tackle a chapter in which a hapless anti-hero and his psychopathic girlfriend begin their love affair. Sweet, to start with, but a gruesome killing spree looms. You’ll enjoy creating lots of gritty dialogue and experimenting with the rhythm of the language. Led by Nicky Harman. Book your place here.

Non-Language-Specific Manuscript Editing
Wednesday 15 June, 14:00-16:00 BST

Participants will come prepared with a page-long sample translation of literary or genre prose of their choice to share with the rest of the group. In the workshop, we will discuss each other’s samples, looking at both sentence-level elements and big picture questions, with the goal being for every participant to leave at the end feeling confident about how they can approach the more challenging aspects of their chosen sample text and the rest of the work it is extracted from. Led by Jack Hargreaves. Book your place here.

How to Pitch to Publishers
Monday 20 June, 18:00-20:00 BST

Pitching to publishers is one of the more enigmatic aspects of finding work in literary translation. What are editors looking for? What will catch their attention and draw them in? What is a pitch? This workshop will give participants the chance to discuss and put together a short pitch either for a book they love or a book pre-selected by the workshop leader, and to do a test-run pitch to a publisher who will provide feedback. Led by Eric Abrahamsen with Juliet Mabey, co-founder of Oneworld Publications. Book your place here.

Wednesday 22 June, 14:00-16:00 BST

Ever been curious about giving subtitling a film or TV show a try? If so, this is the workshop for you. It will focus on the technical and stylistic aspects of subtitling, with a brief introduction of the technology and software used in the field. Led by Deborah Chan. Book your place here.

Translating Children's Books
Monday 27 June, 14:00-16:00 BST

A taste of what it's like to translate children's books between two very different languages and cultures, this workshop gives participants the chance to translate from Chinese into English, with some discussion of translating in the opposite direction, allowing for a more comprehensive look at the process, and a better understanding of the similarities and differences between translating in each direction. Led by Helen Wang and Stephanie Gou. Book your place here.

Translating Brands – Mixed Media Transcreation
Wednesday 29 June, 14:00-16:00 BST

Experience what it’s like to translate all sorts of marketing copy, from brand guidelines to advertising messages and corporate slogans. In this session we'll look at different texts in Chinese and open up a discussion about what to consider when translating into English. Led by Emily Jones. Book your place here.



These online lectures are free. Registration is via Eventbrite.

The Business of Translation: A Roundtable
Saturday 18 June, 15:00-16:00 BST

If you aspire to be a literary translator, either part- or full-time, becoming good at the act of translation itself is a good start. But a long-lasting career in the field requires more than just that: we need to know how to negotiate a contract and what to look out for, how copyright works, and how to manage a project that might last six months or more; not to mention what makes a good reader’s report, what you can do to keep yourself ticking over during the sometimes worryingly long gaps between projects, and so, so much more. Led by Eric Abrahamsen and Jack Hargreaves. Register your place here.

Paper Republic Translation Slam: Wuxia
Saturday 25 June, 13:00-14:00 BST

Gigi Chang (one of the translators of Jin Yong’s books) and Alice Xin Liu (a translator for whom wuxia is new territory) go head-to-head on a martial art, or wuxia, text, producing two very different translations and each trying to persuade you that theirs is best. Which one do you prefer and why? How would you have done it? Whose approach might you use in your own translations in the future? These are all questions you can answer at this hour-long event and Q&A. Register your place here.

Hard Roads an Cauld Hairst Winds: Li Bai an Du Fu in Scots: A Personal Perspective on Translating Chinese Poetry into English and Scots
Saturday 2 July, 10:00-11:00 BST

Brian Holton will talk about his practice as a translator of Chinese poetry into both English and Scots, touching on how he began and how his technique has developed and changed during a lifetime of teaching, translating and pondering the matter of how (or whether) meaning and poetic nuance can be transferred from one culture to another.

He will consider how we might make classical Chinese literature available to a wider readership, and will read and draw examples from his Scots translations of Classical Chinese poetry, Hard Roads an Cauld Hairst Winds: Li Bai an Du Fu in Scots (Taproot Press 2022), and Aa Cled Wi Clouds She Cam (forthcoming, Irish Pages, 2022). Register your place here.


Eric Abrahamsen is a translator and promoter of Chinese literature in English. He is a founder of Paper Republic, an informational platform for Chinese literature, and editor of Pathlight magazine, a journal of translated Chinese fiction and poetry. He is the recipient of translation grants from PEN and the NEA, and his translations have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, n+1, and many other venues. 


Deborah Chan imageDeborah Chan, being fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin, started her career as a broadcasting journalist, although she had received no training in journalism. Fast forward ten years, after a five-year stint at the BBC World Service, she started working as a full-time audio-visual translator and interpreter. With the advent of DVDs, and later streaming services, subtitling became an important part of her work. Deborah is now lecturer at UCL’s Centre for Translation Studies specialising in teaching audio-visual translation, including subtitling and voice-over and dubbing. She also works with the University of Leeds as a tutor in subtitle translation, both into and out of Chinese.


Gigi Chan imageGigi Chang translates from Chinese into English. Her fiction translations include Jin Yong’s martial arts series Legends of the Condor Heroes (co-translated with Anna Holmwood and Shelly Bryant). Her theatre translations include classical Chinese dramas for the Royal Shakespeare Company and contemporary Chinese plays for the Royal Court Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Festival and Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre.


Stephanie GouStephanie Gou is a cultural and travel columnist and contributor to the major Chinese airlines' in-flight magazines. She wrote a blog to review children’s theatre and literature. Recently, she translated an Israeli award-winning picture book The Penguin Café at the Edge of the World. She runs Lit-up Mandarin Book Club (小桔灯云书房 ) for ENG-CHN bilingual families, where children meet up every week via zoom to share the storybooks they love.


Jack Hargreaves is a literary and academic translator of Yorkshire extraction. His work has appeared on Asymptote Journal, Words Without Borders, LitHub, adda, and elsewhere. He translated Shen Dacheng’s story ‘Novelist in the Attic’ for Comma Press and, for Astra House with Yan Yan, both Li Juan’s Winter Pasture and Chai Jing’s Seeing. Authors whose work he has translated include Chia Joo Ming, Yuan Ling, Chen Chuncheng, Wang Hongzhe, Xiaowen Zhu and more. He is part of the Paper Republic management team and produces a monthly newsletter about all things Chinese translation. He was ALTA’s Mentee for Singaporean Literature and is currently on a three-year virtual residency for young artists in Nanjing.


Nicky Harman imageNicky Harman translates fiction, and occasionally non-fiction and poetry from Chinese. She is based in the UK, and before becoming a full-time literary translator, taught technical translation at Imperial College London University. Prize-winning authors she has translated include: A Yi, Anni Baobei, Chan Koon-chung, Chen Xiwo, Han Dong, Huang Beijia, Jia Pingwa, Dorothy Tse, Xinran, Xu Xiaobin, Xu Zhiyuan, and Yan Ge. She has won several awards, including the 2020 China Special Book Award, the Mao Tai Cup People's Literature Chinese-English translation prize 2015, and the 2013 China International Translation Contest, Chinese-to-English section.

When not translating, she spends time promoting contemporary Chinese fiction to the English-language reader. She co-runs and is a trustee of the registered non-profit Paper Republic; runs literary events and writes blogs; and gives talks at literary festivals and, especially, the Centre for New Chinese Writing at Leeds University.


Brian Holton imageBrian Holton translates poetry and prose from modern and classical Chinese into English and Scots. He has published almost twenty books of Yang Lian’s work, including Anniversary Snow (Shearsman Books, 2019), Venice Elegy (Edizioni Damocle, various editions, 2019), and Narrative Poem (Bloodaxe Books, 2017). Anniversary Snow won the inaugural Sarah Maguire Poetry Translation Prize in 2021.

His collection of classical Chinese poetry in Scots, Staunin Ma Lane, was published by Shearsman Books in 2016, and his Hard Roads an Cauld Hairst Winds: Li Bai an Du Fu in Scots was published by Taproot Press in 2022. His Scots translations of Song Dynasty lyrics, Aa Cled Wi Clouds She Cam, is coming from Irish Pages in Summer 2022.

He makes regular appearances at conferences and literary festivals, and has lectured at universities in the UK, Europe, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, and elsewhere. He has won prizes for his translations, and for his own original poetry.


Emily Jones learnt Chinese at the universities of Cambridge, Ningbo and Qingdao and was the recipient of a BCLT mentorship in translation in 2011. As a translator, she has worked on crime fiction, poetry, family sagas, and historical romps by authors from Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan. She is a founding Trustee of Paper Republic, and also Managing Partner of the brand and marketing consultancy Circus.


Alice Xin Liu is a writer and translator living in Beijing with 14 years of experience working in the China field. Born in China, she left aged seven and was educated in Britain, graduating from Durham University studying English Literature. Since arriving in Beijing in 2007 she has worked as a news assistant for the Guardian, China Editor for Index on Censorship, editor at the Financial Times-affiliated Danwei.org (founded by Jeremy Goldkorn), and as Managing Editor of Pathlight: New Chinese Writing, with Paper Republic. Alice has translated three books: The Letters of Shen Congwen (Yilin Publishing House), The Problem with Me: And Other Essays on Making Trouble in China by Han Han (Simon and Schuster) and The Road Home by Ai Wei, which is a Penguin Special. Her freelance writings have appeared in n+1, Granta, The Guardian, Asymptote and other places. She was working on a novel and has been writing about her Communist granny, but now she’s turned to writing about herself and her family in non-fiction form, and has a literary agent working with her on this.


Juliet Mabey imageJuliet Mabey is the co-founder of Oneworld Publications, an award-winning independent publisher focusing on narrative non-fiction, literary fiction, crime fiction and children’s titles. In 2009 Juliet set up Oneworld’s fiction list, and two of her titles have won the Booker Prize, with Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings winning in 2015 and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout in 2016, while Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2019.

A large part of her list consists of translated fiction from over twenty languages, and two of her novels in translation were shortlisted for the Booker International Prize, Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell) and Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright). Oneworld places a strong emphasis on showcasing a rich diversity of voices and stories from around the world, in English and in translation, for both its adult and children’s lists.


Helen Wang has translated novels by Cao Wenxuan, Shen Shixi, Man-Chiu Lin and Qin Wenjun, and early readers and picture books by many other writers and illustrators. Her translation of Cao Wenxuan's novel Bronze and Sunflower won the 2017 Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation. She co-runs the blog Chinese Books for Young Readers (Twitter: @cb4yr).